Later On

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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

An observation on the bottles used by local spirits

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For a reason I don’t yet know, local spirits here in BC are sold in magnum-weight bottles—”magnum” referring not to the volume of the contents but to the thickness of the glass. I would really like to know why. I will say the heavyweight bottles are quite satisfactory to handle: they don’t feel the least bit fragile.

Perhaps it’s because shipping is not really an issue for these local spirits, whereas national brands have the squeeze out every penny and cutting bottle weight reduces shipping costs. That’s not a big deal if you’re bottling just a small run sold locally, but it is if your shipping tens of thousands of bottles across the country. Take Char Gin #3, for example:

Char #3 didn’t make it for Xmas, but it’s here now, and my little bottle is on the way. Only 200 bottles available, and now (as you see) sold out. And it will be a heavyweight bottle.

I noticed the weight thing when I made a Manhattan using Goodridge & Williams Northern Grains whisky:

Northern Grains is an artisanal whisky distilled from a mash of winter wheat and malted barley from Northern British Columbia. It’s aged in American oak bourbon barrels for a minimum of three years and finished in French oak wine casks from BC’s Okanagan Valley. This exceptionally smooth whisky is non-chill filtered with notes of dried stone fruit, toasted wood and cherry.

It is indeed exceptional. I must say using a peeler to cut a strip of zest to twist over the drink is worlds better than using a paring knife. Try it.

And I am back Nordic walking on a regular basis. Progress to date:

My goal is currently 5000 steps/day. My usual goal is 8000 steps per day. I see I’m already over 6000, so I’ll set that as daioy goal for a while.

 

 

 

Written by LeisureGuy

20 March 2019 at 5:50 pm

Good walk and yogurt marinade

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Better cadence today—106.5 steps/minute—over the same route. I have to say that I’m noticing the effort and was somewhat stiff and sore this morning. The weather, though, is magnificent: 62ºF and sunny, with all the cherry trees in bloom. And the Nordic walking sticks encourage a brisk pace.

I have a couple of chicken-breast halves that I’ve cut into small pieces and immersed in Costco (Kirkland) Greek Yogurt into which I mixed a good pinch of salt, some ground cumin, and some dried dillweed. (I was thinking of mint, but have none.)

The yogurt marinade idea came from an article by Priya Krishna in Taste. My plan tonight is to heat my Field No. 12 skillet in the oven, then use a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to sauté two spring onions and two yellow summer squash until they are cooked pretty well, then add one bunch of red chard, chopped, with the stems chopped small. Once that is cooked, I will cook the chicken in the same skillet. I’m undecided whether first to remove the vegetables or not. I think I will see how it looks.

I’m trying to have some sort of cooked greens in every meal.

One good thing about the Field skillets: clean-up is a snap.

Update: I decided to add the yogurt and chicken to the veggies after the veggies were cooked. It worke fairly well, but the yogurt threw off a lot of liquid, which I had to reduce. That took a while.

The chicken was tender and juicy, though. I think I might try the yogurt as a coating for roasted chicken, as in the article.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 March 2019 at 1:33 pm

Nordic walking taking hold again

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38.8 minutes today, 106 steps/minute. Beautiful day: shirtsleeves and note cloudless sky in photo below. Three of the blocks I walk along have a cherry tree in front of each house, both sides of the street.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 March 2019 at 2:26 pm

Thought-provoking video on obesity, diabetes, and diet—and why

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LowCarbUSA.com has a series of videos… well, here’s what they say:

Dr. Robert Cywes first spoke at our event in San Diego in 2018 and he was a huge hit.  Many people approached me saying it was the best presentation of the whole conference.  He states that his whole treatment philosophy is based on his understanding of obesity and diabetes.  We have embarked on a project over the next many weeks to capture everything that’s in his head in a series of videos called ‘Diabetes Understood’ which we then plan to turn into, what will be, an amazing book I’m sure. You can read more about him here.

I just watched the “Introduction” segment (see below) and I was struck at some of his insights. Watch just this first one and see what you think. And it’s worth sticking to it all the way through. Some interesting payoffs at the end.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2019 at 11:30 am

How Exercise May Help Keep Our Memory Sharp

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Good to know. Gretchen Reynolds writes in the NY Times:

 

A hormone that is released during exercise may improve brain health and lessen the damage and memory loss that occur during dementia, a new study finds. The study, which was published this month in Nature Medicine, involved mice, but its findings could help to explain how, at a molecular level, exercise protects our brains and possibly preserves memory and thinking skills, even in people whose pasts are fading.

Considerable scientific evidence already demonstrates that exercise remodels brains and affects thinking. Researchers have shown in rats and mice that running ramps up the creation of new brain cells in the hippocampus, a portion of the brain devoted to memory formation and storage. Exercise also can improve the health and function of the synapses between neurons there, allowing brain cells to better communicate.

In people, epidemiological research indicates that being physically active reduces the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and may also slow disease progression.

But many questions remain about just how exercise alters the inner workings of the brain and whether the effects are a result of changes elsewhere in the body that also happen to be good for the brain or whether the changes actually occur within the brain itself.

Those issues attracted the attention of an international consortium of scientists — some of them neuroscientists, others cell biologists — all of whom were focused on preventing, treating and understanding Alzheimer’s disease.

Those concerns had brought a hormone called irisin into their sphere of interest. Irisin, first identified in 2012 and named for Iris, the gods’ messenger in Greek mythology, is produced by muscles during exercise. The hormone jump-starts multiple biochemical reactions throughout the body, most of them related to energy metabolism.

[Read more about irisin. | Sign up for the Well newsletter.]

Because Alzheimer’s disease is believed to involve, in part, changes in how brain cells use energy, the scientists reasoned that exercise might be helping to protect brains by increasing levels of irisin there.

But if so, they realized, irisin would have to exist in human brains. To see if it did, they gathered tissues from brain banks and, using sophisticated testing, found irisin there. Gene expression patterns in those tissues also suggested that much of this irisin had been created in the brain itself. Levels of the hormone were especially high in the brains of people who were free of dementia when they died, but were barely detectable in the brains of people who had died with Alzheimer’s.

Those tests, however, though interesting, could not tell scientists what role irisin might be playing in brains. So the researchers now turned to mice, some healthy and others bred to develop a rodent form of Alzheimer’s.

They infused the brains of the animals bred to have dementia with a concentrated dose of irisin. Those mice soon began to perform better on memory tests and show signs of improved synaptic health.

At the same time, they soaked the brains of the healthy animals with a substance that inhibits production of irisin and then pumped in a form of beta amyloid, a protein that clumps together to form plaques in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s. In effect, they gave the mice dementia. And, without any irisin in their brains, the once-healthy mice soon showed signs of worsening memory and poor function in the synapses between neurons in their hippocampus.

The scientists also looked inside individual neurons from healthy mice and found that, when they added irisin to the cells, gene expression changed in ways that would be expected to lessen damage from beta amyloid.

Finally and perhaps most important, the scientists had healthy mice work out, swimming for an hour almost every day for five weeks. Beforehand, some of the animals also were treated with the substance that blocks irisin production.

In the untreated animals, irisin levels in the brain blossomed during the exercise training and later, after the animals’ brains were exposed to beta amyloid, they seemed to fight off its effects, performing significantly better on memory tests than sedentary control mice that likewise had been exposed.

But the animals that had been unable to create irisin did not benefit much from exercise.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 January 2019 at 11:09 am

Nordic walking again

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The days have recently been quite nice, and I thought today to resume the Nordic walking that was interrupted by the winter rains. I’m now experienced enough not to overdo it, so just 20 minutes (one big neighborhood lap) was enough for starting up. I’ll resume now and should (except for rain days: April showers bring May flowers) have a nice string of walking until next fall/winter.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2019 at 5:31 pm

Very interesting report on exercise: what it can do and what it can’t

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It’s a long read but it’s worthwhile. Vybarr Cregan-Reid reports on “Why exercise alone won’t save us” in the Guardian. A few selections from the report.

. . . Fitness crazes are like diets: if any of them worked, there wouldn’t be so many. CrossFit, the intensely physical, communal workout incorporating free weights, squats, pull-ups and so forth, is still less than 20 years old. Spin classes – vigorous group workouts on stationary bikes – have only been around for about 30. Aerobics was a craze about a decade before that, although many of its high-energy routines had already been around for a while. (The pastel horror of 1970s Jazzercise is probably best forgotten.) Before that, there was the jogging revolution, which began in the US in the early 1960s. The Joggers Manual, published in 1963 by the Oregon Heart Foundation, was a leaflet of about 200 words that sought to address the postwar panic about sedentary lifestyles by encouraging an accessible form of physical activity, explaining that “jogging is a bit more than a walk”. The jogging boom took a few years to get traction, hitting its stride in the mid- to late-80s, but it remains one of the most popular forms of exercise, now also in groups. . .

. . . Technological innovations have led to countless minor reductions of movement. To clean a rug in the 1940s, most people took it into their yard and whacked the bejeezus out of it for 20 minutes. Fast-forward a few decades and we can set robot vacuum cleaners to wander about our living rooms as we order up some shopping to be delivered, put on the dishwasher, cram a load into the washer-dryer, admire the self-cleaning oven, stack some machine-cut logs in the grate, pour a glass of milk from the frost-free fridge or thumb a capsule into the coffee maker. Each of these devices and behaviours is making it a bit more difficult for us to keep moving regularly throughout our day.

As we step through various innovations, we tend to think of the work that is no longer required as “saved”. Cleaning a rug once burned about 200 calories, while activating a robo-vac uses about 0.2 – an activity drop of a thousandfold, with nothing to replace it. Nobody, when they buy a labour-saving device, thinks: “How am I going to replace that movement I have saved?” . . .

. . . A 2015 report by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges called Exercise – theMiracle Cure said that regular exercise can assist in the prevention of strokes, some cancers, depression, heart disease and dementia, reducing risk by at least 30%. With regular exercise, the risk of bowel cancer drops by 45%, and of osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes by a whopping 50%.

Exercise, in these terms, is not a fad, or an option, or an add-on to our busy lifestyles: it is keeping us alive. But before it can work for us, our whole approach needs to change. . .

. . . The health effects of being sedentary are as common and recognisable as they are serious. Anxiety, depression, heart disease, breast and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and the leading cause of global disability, back pain, are all driven by sedentary behaviours.

For our bodies to function properly, they operate on the assumption that we will be burning calories throughout the day, and not in short bursts. It is clear that periods of sedentariness are bad for the human body, and some exercise is always going to be better than none; the issue is not really to do with the types of exercise, but with our approach to them and what we expect them to achieve. We know from the data that the human relationship with exercise is predominantly characterised as both optional and additional to an otherwise sedentary life, which itself causes a ton of problems. As long as physical activity is divorced from the real work of our lives, we will find reasons for not doing it.

No matter how low the institutional expectations for physical activity drop, more of us fail to meet them each year. A Public Health England survey last year found that people in England are becoming so inactive that 40% of those aged between 40 and 60 walk briskly for less than 10 minutes a month. The reasons are numerous, but they seem to be connected to our notion of exercise, and the difference between short bursts of running or cycling and low-level, sustained physical activity. If we go back to the beginnings of exercise, we can see why it is still so problematic for us today. . .

. . . If being fit promotes long life, you might expect being an elite athlete to help you reach a ripe old age. It doesn’t. Olympians buy themselves an extra 2.8 years on average, according to a 2012 study. Devoting your life to sport and exercise will buy you more time, but once you factor in the Olympians’ lifelong sustained attention to diet and healthy living, as well as tens of thousands of hours spent training, 2.8 years might not really seem sufficient recompense.

Instead, the fittest and healthiest people on the planet have never been to a gym. These people, who report high levels of wellbeing and live extraordinarily long lives, inhabit what have been called “blue zones” – areas where lifestyles lead to peculiar longevity. The term was coined by two demographers, Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, who, while collecting data on clusters of centenarians on the island of Sardinia, identified places of especially high longevity on their map with a blue felt-tip pen. Because clusters of long-lived people are often found in geographically remote places (also including parts of Okinawa, Costa Rica and Greece), jackpot genes seem like a strong candidate to explain their longevity. But a famous study of Danish twins has concluded that a long life seems to be only “moderately heritable”. Over the years, many studies have looked at the lifestyles ofpeople in “blue zones” and found that a number of their customs and habits contribute to a long life (everything from a sense of belonging and purpose to not smoking, or eating a predominantly plant-based diet). In the list of contributory factors, there is a noticeable absence of exercise.

I travelled to Sardinia to meet Pes and find out more about his work. He has a vested interest in longevity. His great uncle was a supercentenarian (living beyond 110). The years that Pes is interested in finding out more about are the good ones, not those spent with 24-hour care in a nursing home (there are also none of these in Sardinia’s blue zones). A trial by a group of gerontologists based at Boston University reported that 10% of supercentenarians made it to the final three months of their lives without being troubled by major age-related diseases.

In my conversation with Pes, he repeatedly stressed that while diet and environment are important components of longevity, being sedentary is the enemy, and sustained, low-level activity is the key that research by him and others has uncovered: not the intense kinds of activity we tend to associate with exercise, but energy expended throughout the day. The supercentenarians he has worked with all walked several miles each day throughout their working lives. They never spent much time, if any, seated at desks. . .

. . . For those of us who can’t move to Sardinia and become a shepherd, a review published in the Lancet in 2016 found that “high levels of moderate-intensity physical activity (ie, about 60-75 min per day) seem to eliminate the increased risk of death associated with high sitting time”.

So even if we go to the gym on a Saturday morning, our absolute inactivity at other times can still be damaging to the body. Low and moderate activity for longer or sustained periods seems to produce the best results. It looks like excessive high-intensity activity (the kind we see in elite athletes) drives metabolism and cell turnover, and may even, when all factors are taken into account, accelerate the ageing process. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

11 January 2019 at 4:21 pm

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